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Monday, March 3, 2014

Ladies Night

            Last week I was introduced to Carol Malone. She is an author. Hurray for authors. Her first novel, Ladies Night, caught my attention because it is listed as a “Fight Card Romance.” Have you ever heard of one of those before? I hadn’t.

            Those of you who have followed my blog for any time probably know that I exhibit a keen interest in genre crossing. No. It’s not anything like street crossing, but if genre crossing guard position ever opens up—I want it.
            At first glance, boxing and romance seem to be worlds apart. I decided that I had to interview Carol and find out more about this intriguing combination. So, without further delay allow me to introduce Carol Malone.

1) What gave you the idea to combine boxing and romance into the same story?

A1) Before I answer that, let me say Randy, thank you for allowing me the privilege of being featured on your blog. I’m sure I’m not your usual suspect. 
Anyway, to answer the question. I have been forever reading boxing stories where the girl friends whine and moan that he’s going to get hurt or killed and she wants him to quit and do something else. I dislike that type of woman. I wanted to write about a woman who would be a support to her man, even be right there in his corner if and when he needed her. I had read most of the novels in the Fight Card series and there was never a gal like that. One boxer even left his gal behind in another city so she would have a better life. After all, what man doesn’t want the woman of his dreams on his side, pulling for him, rooting for him, willing to take on a murder rap to save him? My heroine, Lindy is that type of gal.

I'm often asked "why would a nice gal like you want to write a novel in an all-male dominated genre like pulp fiction boxing?" This is my short answer:

I wrote "Ladies Night" basically as a dare. A couple of years ago, my friend, Paul Bishop, along with his good friend, Mel Odom, created the Fight Card series – fast action boxing tales inspired by the fight pulps of the ‘30s, 40s and ‘50s. Being part of a monthly writers group mentored by Paul, I was familiar with these novels and was knocked out by their punchy style. When Paul wanted my husband, Tim, to write a Fight Card novella, I saw only one major problem – Tim, raised with four sisters, doesn’t like sports. He never played sports of any kind, nor does he enjoy watching sports on TV, which he considers wasting time. I, on the other hand, was raised with four sports-loving, older brothers.

If Tim wasn’t going to take a crack at writing a Fight Card story, then I wanted to jump in the ring. Without Paul’s knowledge, I started to write Ladies Night in March, 2012. With trepidation, I brought the first chapters of “Ladies Night” to our monthly writer's group and the excited acceptance overwhelmed me.

Paul encouraged me to continue. He’d had a notion in his head to expand the Fight Card brand – which he’d already done by adding in a series of Fight Card MMA novels – to include Fight Card Romance novels, and “Ladies Night” looked like it might fill the niche. You can see me listed as one of the Fight Card series authors at:  http://fightcardbooks.com/carol-malone

2) Do you have any plans to expand this concept to a hockey and romance series? Seeing as hockey is pretty much just fighting on ice.

A2) I know I’m going to offend some of your sports-loving readers, but hockey is the one sport I can’t get behind. It ranks right up there with curling. It wasn’t one my brothers played and I never learned the rules or saw many games. You are right about it being violent, but boxing pits one man against another, no sticks or heavy protective clothing. Just the beauty of learning the “Sweet Science.”

3) What was the wackiest genre crossing idea you came up with when you were deciding what to write?

A3) Blood sucking vampire, Darth Werewolf, and his queen, the witch Esmeralda Troll, are chiropractors who serve only zombies who strain their backs while consuming tiny fairytale creatures from medieval England who have been running from Martian who have been born again, and now flee tyranny of time-traveling and space-traveling Scottish Highlanders. It could happen.  

(Please tell me that you are actually going to write this story. I so want to read it!)

4) Are there any genres, or settings, that are just too silly to be combined with romance? And if so, what are they?

A4) I would probably say children’s stories, middle grade and possibly pre-teen. That might stretch a bit in today’s modern – free thinking world, but I would hold those as a NO ROMANCE ZONE.

5) They say "Three's a crowd." Is that true for genre mash-ups? Would a western, mob-war, romance be over the top?

A5) Actually, I think I read one of those. I believe the more you can mix it up, the better it will show on Amazon’s bestsellers list and the faster you can make your climb. It’s all about the niche market these days. My trick is how to write sweet romances in any genre, but do it in a 50 Shades of Grey world.

6) Briefly, tell us about Ladies Night. Give us an overview.

A6) Ladies Night is the story of a hard-luck orphan, Jimmy Doherty, who was taught the “Sweet Science” of boxing by his mentor, Father Tim Brophy to keep him off the mean streets of Chicago. Jimmy’s fists were good enough to receive further training from Pops Dominic, a professional manager in Los Angeles. Right off the train, Jimmy falls for the manager’s only daughter, Lindy. But when Lindy is arrested for killing a boxer with ties to gangster Mickey Cohen, Jimmy is forced to join forces with the arresting detective – who would like to do much more with Lindy than put her in handcuffs – in a desperate search for the real killer. It’s the sweet, tender romance of two people in terrifying trouble.

7) Boxing used to be such a popular sport. Why do you think its popularity has waned in recent years?

A7) As a kid I remember watching fight night with my dad and four older brothers. The greats like Marciano and Robinson. I think there are a lot of reasons people have lost interest. I know I wasn’t thrilled when they went to “Pay-per-view” fights on TV. Then you had to purchase an expensive add-on to your cable like HBO just to see a fight. I also believe greedy promoters like Don King ruined the sport for the average boxing enthusiast. When boxing bouts weren’t televised on regular networks, interest diminished. I know mine did. And then greed – pure and simple in another reason. It’s like the promoters don’t care about average fans or allow them to participate viewing the sport they love – man-to-man, physically demanding athletics like the gladiators of Rome.

8) Fun stuff:

Favorite genre to read:  what else, romance

Favorite childhood vacation spot:  Jackson Hole and Yellowstone

Favorite quote from a movie:  “Have fun stormin’ the castle.” Miracle Max,  from Princess Bride

Favorite smell:  baking bread

Favorite flavor of ice cream:  chocolate – is there any other flavor?

Favorite candy:  anything with chocolate and nuts

What’s on you “keeper shelf” of books: Nora, Harlequin Heartwarming, Linda Lael Miller, Sandra Brown, Dan Brown, Stephenie Meyer, James Patterson.

Are you a plotter or a pantzer:  pantzer for sure. You can tell from the skid marks on my jeans.

If you were a superhero, what would your kryptonite be:  chocolate, is there any other weakness?

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be:  I might like a villa in Venice, a chateau in Steamboat Springs, a bungalow in Great Britain, or a luxury casita in Lava Cove in St. George, but I love living in Ventura County, California. The weather can’t be beat.

Piece of advice for aspiring writers:  write, write, write, edit, rinse and repeat

One food you would never eat:  probably chocolate covered ants. I might lick off the chocolate, but bugs, no way.

9) Any other projects in the works?

A9) I’ve just completed a 40s baseball novella for publication in an anthology of pulp sports short stories, and I’m working on a sequel to “Ladies Night.” I’m just about finished with a contemporary romance about a nurse and a fireman. There are always ideas floating around my brain like so much space junk.

10) What are your feelings about LDS authors writing romance? Can they keep their high standards of morality and virtue and still write a book about love in the modern secular world?

A10) This has been a question I have struggled with since I started writing. We all know Mormons (LDS) – Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hold themselves to a higher standard in terms of morality. There are good LDS writers out there writing sweet romantic tales and I have no problem with that. There are certain lines, certain words, certain situations you don’t write about if you want to be published by The Big D. The feeling is, “you’re LDS, you can’t have a sex scene in your novel!” You’re limited because of culture.

In my story, there is violence, crime, murder, rape attempts, sexual situations - although off camera – and non-LDS themes. I don’t want to be restricted in my writing of novels because of my religion. I’m not talking about writing erotica, or anything like that, but I don’t want to be censored either. It’s a fine line we walk, almost as fine as a woman writing a romance in a primarily male genre. The romance turns off the guys, and the sports doesn’t interest romance readers. Can you see me walking a tight-rope as I write? But I live for the challenge.

            Thank you, Carol. I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions and wish all the best with your writing career. Carol has interviewed me as well. Make sure to stop by and see if my goofy interview style rubbed off on her.
            One last item. I bet all of you are wondering the same thing I am. When do we get the chance to read the first curling romance novel? Am I right?


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